Birthday Fun!

I can’t believe just how quickly the years are flying by these days. It doesn’t seem that long ago when my birthday always seemed ages away, now it comes round far too fast! Anyway, it’s here again and I think I’m probably now officially middle-aged, although most of the time I still feel about ten!

This year I discovered a lovely local lady at the school Summer Fair. She makes pictures and decorative frames to order and I thought her button head picture of a cyclist was the ideal surprise gift for my husband – him being in training for the Tour de ……(somewhere).

He really loved his frame, so much so, I have been given one for my birthday too. I love it, although it will always remind me of my broken foot misadventure. I think they look rather good together and I have the perfect location for them in mind too.

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I have also been blessed this year with a homebaked chocolate cake from one of my dearest friends. I can’t wait to tuck into it after tea.

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Thank you to all my firends and family for the lovely cards and gifts.

Happy birthdays
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Do check out the lovely Artysan Gifts for her range of frames.

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Good News!

This is going to be one of my last opportunities for a relaxing cuppa and blog as Alice is no longer going to be attending Explore Learning after the school holidays.  It was always going to be a temporary thing for her as she is doing well at school and doesn’t really need any extra help.  But she has loved going to the centre and has grown in confidence as well as speeding up her work rate!  I have suggested they run a holiday club with workshops over the summer holidays as I know that would be great for us and several other mums have said the same.  So I will be sending them a letter (or more likely an e-mail) to suggest it to their head office.

Anyway, today has been a complete wash out here.  I think the weather is obviously feeling like me as the Olympics have now finished.  I have Team GB and Olympic withdrawal and feel quite bereft without the amazing sports on the telly. At least I will be able to concentrate on my crochet again!

Roald Dahl Books

So with the weather being rubbish and our back garden once again a lake, we headed into Bury to do some errands.  Alice has finished the Big Friendly Read and collected the remainder of her Roald Dahl passport cards.  The library are going to send her certificate to school so she’ll get that in an assembly at some point.  We have our fingers crossed for her winning one of the lovely prizes.

The trip has also been a bit of a test for my foot.  I had good news last week at the hospital.  The bone is healing and I can start to get about a bit more.  I have to be careful and if I take my ‘Robocop’ boot off I have to wear stiff soled shoes.  But the hope is I should be back to normal in another four weeks.  Hoorah!  So I’ve walked further today than I have all summer.  I’ve even managed without my crutches, however, I have kept the boot on this time.  I wasn’t quite ready to risk my foot when I was going to be out all day.  I’ll get there!

Happy days
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A trip to Lytham

After last night’s cycling triumphs, I was feeling rather exhausted this morning.  But it was far too lovely a day to waste, particularly as we had plans.  And with hubby having the day off work, we were able to go out and do something different.

P1050467So following my plans from previous posts, I found a low cost event outdoors with the RSPB in Lytham-St-Annes.  I’ve been a member of the RSPB for almost thirty years now and thought it’s about time we started going to the nature reserves.  This is our second one this year!!  The event was £3 per child member (£5 for non-members) and accompanying adults were free. So I’ve been sat in the sun overlooking Fairhaven Lake, while Alice and her Dad explore the mudflats of the Ribble Estuary under the expert guidance of some RSPB and WWT volunteers.  They were apparently dipping for the creatures that live in the mud, although I’m still not quite sure what they did find.

P1050460I went armed with my binoculars, notepad and guidebook, but all I succeeded in doing was hobbling to the café for an ice cream and then having a doze in the sun! After an hour or so I decided to have a walk (rather a hobble) around the lake.  I need to move about or I get stiff, but I didn’t manage very far. I did catch the ‘mud-dippers’ making pictures in the sand though and it looked like they were all having great fun. I had to have a rest before heading back to the RSPB centre. I can’t believe how tired I am all the time – breaking a bone really does take it out of you!

P1050456The Discovery Centre is a little treasure trove of information and they have loads of activities on all year round, so it’s definitely worth a visit. I’d like to come back when I’m able to walk properly as there are loads of migrating birds that come to the Estuary. And I’ve still never found a mermaids purse when beach-combing and rock pooling, after over forty years of trying!

I feel like a tiny bird...

I feel like a tiny bird…

While the others went out in a rowing boat on the lake, I took the opportunity to browse the RSPB shop and I found some beautiful scarves which will do nicely for a couple of birthdays coming up. It’s also made me think there is more scope to make my little bird cards. I think I might have a go at turning them into robins for Christmas. I’m also planning to make some more masculine owls from a number of old OS maps my husband has donated to me, so there’s plenty to be getting on with for another couple of months card-making.

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But my focus for this next week has to be hubby’s birthday. So there will be at least one crafting session and probably some baking too! I did promise I would make him a batch of biscuits to take in to work. Mmmmmm, I’m getting hungry at the thought. Now, where are we going for tea I wonder?!

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Happy summer crafting
x

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Summer’s Here!

Summer has arrived at last!  We have wall-to-wall sunshine just in time for the flying ants to invade the patio.  How I love the summer.

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Actually I generally really do love summer.  There’s nowhere nicer than a warm sunny day at the beach in the UK (in my humble opinion).  I think my broken foot is taking it’s toll though this year.  Having a hot swelling leg and foot is just not much fun .  Anyway, I’ve managed to escape outside for a bit and it’s very relaxing to feel the sun on my skin again.  It’s been too long.

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While I’m out basking, I’ve been able to catch up on some reading and I’m thrilled to say that the Provident tips calendar has now been published.  And it’s a great read.  There are loads of ideas for the summer, ranging from things to do with children, to stain removal, crafts and baking too.  So do pop by and have a look, you never know what might inspire you.  For me it’s back to some more reading and the pile of work-in-progress while Alice does some nature work for her next Brownie badge!

Happy summer crafting
x

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It’s the Olympics

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am obsessed with the Olympics.  I always get swept up in the whole spectacle of it and nothing will ever come close to the enormity of London in 2012, but this year is just amazing.  It has certainly helped cure the boredom of resting my broken foot!  Mind you, it’s also making me itch to get moving again and looking at my wasting calf muscle is making me think I might give my bike another go (once the Robocop boot has gone).

I’ve been trying to spend some time on making things for the house.  The summer is always a bit quieter for making, so it seems the ideal time to do some home décor upgrades.  My problem is I can’t concentrate on anything but the amazing performances of all Team GB over in Rio.  Every time I start something, somebody does something incredible again and I can’t take my eyes off the tv!

I was watching the diving the other night and had to undo three rounds of crochet, so I gave up in the end.  I didn’t even get anything out yesterday. I was far too nervous watching Max Whitlock, Justin Rose and Jason Kenny to even pick anything up.  It’s so fantastic how all the athletes are doing and across so many different sports too.

Cyclist Birthday Card

I’m missing the ‘dancing horses’ this afternoon as I’ve managed to tear myself away from the telly and hobble my way to town so Alice can attend a creative writing workshop.  And I’ve just discovered I’ve left my phone at home!  So I’m itching to get home to find out how the Team GB representatives have got on.  I don’t know how I’ll go on next week when it’s all over if I’ve got withdrawal symptoms now, and I’m only missing a couple of hours!

Being out for a bit has made me remember the 2012 Olympics and how I was obsessed with red, white and blue in my card-making.

Red , white and blue birthday bunting

As Team GB are doing so well again, it may be time to resurrect the patriotic colour theme, although I’m not sure if I can concentrate for long enough this week to make anything!  Hopefully I will get a little bit of time to think and pull some designs together.  I haven’t done any bunting for a while and I’ve just bought some new wash tape, so that could be another theme to follow through.Birthday Bunting Card

There’s also the Olympics theme to carry on, and sports isn’t something I’ve ever really done anything with (except a few bicycles for hubby’s birthdays or an occasional football).  I’ve always stayed away from the traditional ‘male’ style cards, so it might just be time for a change of focus – at least for a little while.

P1250047Actually that reminds me, I only have a few days to make hubby’s birthday card, and then it’ll be time to turn my attention to Christmas makes

But there’s still plenty of Olympics to watch yet, so

Come on Team GB
x

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Outdoor Summer Activities

Since I was invited to write my blog for Provident, I’ve been spotting all sorts of other things to do that don’t cost a lot.  Of course, many of the activities are local to me in Bury, but there are plenty of national activities to get involved with too.

IMGP1267I was struck last week by an article I read in the latest Plantlife magazine. The new edition of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary has had several nature based words removed and replaced with modern technology speak. This doesn’t necessarily sound a travesty at first, but these are words like catkin, beech, fern, acorn, bluebell, buttercup and dandelion! Surely these are words that every child grows up with?! It really was a shock that they have been replaced by broadband, chatroom and blog. Isn’t it possible to have space for all of these words in a child’s dictionary? Plantlife are encouraging parents to spend more time outdoors with their children and this links perfectly (I think anyway) with the Woodland Trust’s campaign to get children to play outside. They have launched their ‘Tree Party’ campaign and you can send off for a free party pack to take on a picnic with your friends.

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My pack arrived the other day and it’s great. Alice can’t wait to get outside and use it. The pack comes in a box made to look like a picnic hamper and is filled with games to play, face masks, straws, stickers, party invitations and even a bag to put all your rubbish in! The idea is that you invite a tree to your party and celebrate how important they are in our lives. I’m hoping we have some sunny days over the holidays and we can go for a picnic in one of local parks.

bury_d_treasure_2_sanvito_curved_displayIf we do get out and about, regardless of the temperature I will be encouraging Alice to have a go at a local initiative ‘Bury’d Treasure’. This is another activity to encourage children to spend time outdoors, only this time’s it’s about following clues to solve a puzzle. There are several set up around the local parks in Bury and some local primary schools have signed up to encourage their pupils to take part. I hope it’s a success and we don’t find they become targets for vandals.

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All of these outdoor activities will help with the annual summer keep active campaign run by the NHS and Change4life, the ’10 minute shake-up’. This year they have teamed up with Disney again and the free pack includes a Finding Dory poster and stickers. So we shall be aiming to do at least ten minutes of physical activity every day.

I am also hoping that Alice will be a bit more independent and I will get some crafting done while she runs, climbs, discovers and solves clues!

Happy holidays
x


www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

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Summer Activities for Children (with Provident)

I know many parents will be dreading the long school summer holidays.  It’s always difficult trying to find enough for the children to do without breaking the bank and/or your own sanity.  I’m in my third summer break from school and I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home Mum, so I don’t have to find lots of childcare.  However, I also don’t have much extra cash lying around as we’re a one income family.  So finding cheap or free activities is high on my priority list for the next few weeks.

Of course the activities have to be something to keep my child interested, and we try to do a variety of things each week to stop boredom setting in.  I plan to arrange some ‘home’ days as well as days out.  We might even manage a few full family days a bit further afield, but I’ll have to wait and see if that’s possible.

Summer

So, my first port of call for activities is my local library network.  I consider us quite fortunate in Bury as we still have a relatively good network of libraries around the borough.  I love the annual national Summer Reading Challenge as it keeps up reading for pleasure as well as me not having to buy a pile of books every time we go out.  My daughter is mad on the Rainbow Magic Fairies and the library has been a real godsend as she always finds different ones every time we visit (And it’s only cost me the price of a bus ticket.  She can take out up to eight books at a time and they all count towards the reading challenge.  The website for the Reading Challenge is very interactive with games and puzzles as well as being able to unlock different content as more books are read.    This year’s Challenge is titled ‘The Big Friendly Read’ and is all about Roald Dahl, so this will be a fun set of books to read.  At the end of the challenge – reading six books in the six weeks – it’s great for the child to receive a certificate and possibly some other reward linked to the challenge theme.  I can’t wait to see the Roald Dahl poster.

Roald Dahl Books

While in the library we can find out what other workshops they have on.  We’ve taken part in arts and crafts (in collaboration with the art gallery) and writing workshops with local bookshops and learning centres.  Our local shopping centres also have regular themes over the summer.  The trick here is to avoid the high priced funfair rides and head over to the main gazebo where we take part in any competitions (drawling and treasure hunts) which are mostly free to enter and there’s often a craft workshop or something being sponsored by some of the retailers in the centre.  I love these days out as all the mess is left in the workshop and we come home with a few treats and something we’ve made.

I’ve also found that Pets at Home frequently run animal workshops – ‘My Pet Pals’ .  These give children (and parents) a chance to learn about reptiles, aquatics, insects, wild birds and small furries.  They are free of charge but you need to book a place, so keep an eye on the website for more information in your local store.

Another of our favourite things to do is pay a visit to the cinema.  Our cinema (Vue) runs a film every morning in the holidays at £1.99 per ticket (Mini Morning).  They are usually films coming to the end of their general release but we’ve seen quite a few films this way and at a fraction of the cost.  I’m hoping they’ll be showing ‘the secret life of pets’ over summer, fingers crossed.  Be warned though, it’s probably better going when it’s not pouring down as they can get pretty busy!

On our home days we alternate between enjoying some relaxation time in the garden (weather permitting), playing inside doing something creative.  Summer is a great time for the garden and I plan to do some major garden work this year.  This will include encouraging my daughter to grow some plants of her own.  I’ve bought a couple of packets of radish and spring onion seeds for her to plant.  As they grow pretty quickly she’ll be able to see the fruits of her labours and hopefully it will encourage her to try eating them too!

Radishes

If we do have to spend some time indoors (highly likely in a British summer), then we will undoubtedly get out something creative to do.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for low cost crafting materials and always try to have some available just in case.  There’s quite a lot of choice out there on the high street and you can find something for most budgets.  My favourites for the sheer volume of materials are the large craft jars in the Entertainer (around £10) and Wilko’s selection of boxes (£2 – £15).  Another great kit is the activity bag from craft planet (around £10) and they can be found online and from craft shops.  There are loads of materials and the essential glue as well as ideas sheets and instructions on how to make a project or two.  I like how the projects are aimed at children but all materials are good quality.  We’ve had felt pieces, funky foam, card blanks, coloured card, pipe-cleaners, beads and stickers (to name a few) in the past and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next one.  It’s always great fun to empty out the contents and start making.  These bags even come in boys and girls versions.

Craft Bag

My last tip is to start collecting small boxes, tubes, yogurt pots and bottle tops a few weeks before the holidays.  (Yogurt pots make great paint and glue pots).  You never know what these items can be turned into – just search Pinterest and You Tube for ideas – and best of all, anything that hasn’t been used can be given to your local nursery or reception class in September.

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

Don’t forget to do some baking too. Some scones, biscuits or cupcakes make great treats for a picnic, whatever the weather!

Vanilla Fairy Buns

Vanilla Fairy Buns

I’m looking forward to the holidays and I hope you have a great summer whatever you get up to.

Happy Holidays
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It’s Father’s Day

I hope all the Dads out there are being spoiled today.  That’s if they let you spoil them that is.  My Dad really doesn’t believe in Father’s Day at all, so it’s always difficult to do anything, but he still got a handmade card and a visit from me this morning.

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It’s also his birthday next week which means I can indulge him with another handmade creation, along with a new golf glove and a book.

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We’re all going up to visit as well next weekend for a buffet, which is all he really loves – food and family – simple pleasures!

Well, it’s Father’s Day here for my husband and he has been inundated with handmade gifts from Alice – cards made at school and Brownies, a mini toolbox filled with ‘Dad’ bars of chocolate and the obligatory pack of new boxer shorts. What more could any Dad want?!

I hope Father’s Day is filled with food and family, as it should be.

Happy crafting
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Easter activities

We’ve had quite a lot to do this Easter holiday and this week Alice has been entering lots of competitions in our local shopping centres. First the small independent shopping centre, Millgate, ran a competition to design an Easter egg, the first prize is an Easter egg and an egg for everyone in their class at school.

I love watching Alice doing this type of thing. As the deadline is at the end of the week, we went for a cuppa to give her time and space to do her design entry. As usual I had my ‘big’ bag with me which has a box of crayons and some coloured pencils in – I feel this is a real sign of being a Mum!

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Last week we entered the Easter egg hunt on The Rock shopping complex. There always seems to be something like this on there in the school holidays, and it’s something different to do outside. Surprising though, this time Alice won the first prize – a month’s tuition at Explore Learning and an enormous Thorntons Easter Egg filled with Millies Cookies!!! So we collected the prize this afternoon.

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I think we have one happy little girl this Easter holiday and we might just have to share the egg and cookies around friends and family!

Happy Chocolate Eating!
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Hunkydory

Over the last few weeks I’ve been inundated with family requests for cards, so many birthdays, anniversaries and we even had a wedding this year! When you get to my age all the weddings just seem to stop, now it’s 40th and 50th birthdays of friends and we’re all waiting for the weddings of our children – which will be some time off yet!

Anyway, I invested in some of the Hunkydory ‘little books’ a little while ago, and as I have needed some quick cards recently, I decided it was time to stop looking at the images and actually use some. As I have quite a collection of Hunkydory cardstock, these little books are brilliant to put with card I have already. The images are really lovely too and there are loads to choose from in each book. I have one for men, one for birthdays and one about birds and they seem to cover every occasion. The bird images range from paintings of garden birds to more contemporary designs, these lend themselves beautifully to wedding and anniversary cards.

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I’ve also had quite a few birthdays this last few weeks and these images have been great for all ages.  This ‘hipster’ image really made me think of my brother.  I’m not really sure why as he doesn’t have a moustache or beard, neither does he ride a bike, but the overall feel of the image was just right.  It’s such a cool colour scheme, the little hints of teal work so well with the bright red and black.  I love it!

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This was the card I made for one of my daughter’s friends birthday. It comes from the birthday book and looks so lovely, I just couldn’t resist making a card with it. It really reminds me of my daughter on her bike, full of life, and the butterflies set it off perfectly.  I found this lovely cloud paper in a back-issue of Craftseller and love the dreamy feel it gives to the card.
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My next card was for my hubby, he loves a glass of red wine, so this image was perfect. I coupled this with a bottle of rioja from a local wine merchant, and made up a hamper of cheeses, biscuits, snacks, pasta and sauce. It was very well received and we all enjoyed a lovely dinner with the contents.
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Finally here’s my card for an ex-work colleague who has a small boat that he likes to sail over the summer.
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One of the things I love about making cards is being able to make something individual for the recipient, and these little books are great as there just seems to be an image to suit every occasion and age. I am sure they will come in very handy over the next few weeks and months. Time to get thinking about Christmas cards next though!

Happy crafting
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